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Book reviews for "Elliot,_Alistair" sorted by average review score:

Vegetable Dinners (Fresh & Simple)
Published in Hardcover by Meredith Books (1999)
Authors: Jennifer Darling, Better Homes and Gardens, and Jane Horn
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Hell Hath No Fury...
"Medea" is a classical work that many have heard of, but few have actually read. It is the story of the wife of Jason, leader of Argonauts, and her chilling plot of revenge against an unfaithful husband and his new child-bride. The play is short, concise, and powerfully unnerving. Whether this is a history of misogyny or a warning of the vengeance of a wronged woman is a matter better left to scholarly debate. Provocative, disturbing, and at times heartbreaking, this is a definite must-read for neo-Classicists and avid readers alike. Not to be missed.

Scorned Barbarian Woman Bent on Revenge
This is one of those remarkable plays that feels like it was written just last week. Medea is the daughter of the evil King Aeetes in Colchis -- on the remote, eastern side of the Black Sea. She assists Jason in slaying the serpent that guarded the golden fleece, and fell deeply in love with him. (See Apollonius Rhodius' Argonautica for a fuller treatment of the love episode at Colchis). She even killed her brother, Absrytus, on their way back to Greece.

Medea has one problem, however. Aside from the fact she is a witch, she is a barbarian, a non-Greek. The Greeks used the word "barbaros" to refer to all people who weren't Greek, because if they didn't speak Greek, it just sounded like "bar bar bar" to the Greeks.

So after Jason and Medea settle in together back in Greece, his homeland, he decides that his interests (and Medea's) are better served if he marries the daughter of King Creon of Corinth. Medea gets jealous, poisons the woman, and then kills her two children in revenge.

Medea is an absolutely riveting character, whose tragic problems are those of all woman who have left their homes and families to follow men to foreign lands, only to be scorned by them in the end. The speeches of Jason and Medea are remarkable point-counterpoint presentations which reflect the deep influence of the sophists of Euripides' day. Medea sounds, at times, like a proto-feminist. She is one of the most enduring dramatic creations of all times, revealing with each line the remarkable genius of Euripides, the most modern of the three great Greek tragedians

Euripides uses Medea's infanticides to try teaching a lesson
Every time there is a horrific story in the news about a mother murdering her children, the classic tragedy "Medea" by Euripides is mentioned. However, a close reading of the actual play shows that the point Euripides is trying to make in this drama is not about infanticide, but rather about the way "foreigners" are treated in Greece (this is best seen in the odes of the Chorus of Corinthian Women). The other key component of the play is the psychology of Medea and the way in which she constructs events to help convince herself to do the unspeakable deed and kill the two sons she has borne Jason. There is a very real sense in which Jason is the true villain of the piece and I do not think there is a comparable example in the extant Greek tragedies remain wherein a major mythological hero is made to look as bad as Euripides does in this play.

Another important thing to remember in reading "Medea" is that the basic elements of the story were already known to the Athenian audience that would be watching the play. Consequently, when the fact that Medea is going to kill her children is not a surprise what becomes important are the motivations the playwright presents in telling this version of the story. The audience remembers the story of the Quest for the Golden Fleece and how Medea betrayed her family and her native land to help Jason. In some versions of the story Medea goes so far as to kill her brother, chop up his body, and throw it into the sea so their father, the King of Colchis, must stop his pursuit of the Argo to retrieve the body of his son. However, as a foreigner Medea is not allowed to a true wife to Jason, and when he has the opportunity to improve his fortune by marrying the princess of Corinth, Medea and everything she had done for him are quickly forgotten.

To add insult to injury, Jason assures Medea that his sons will be well treated at the court while the King of Corinth, worried that the sorceress will seek vengeance, banishes her from the land. After securing sanctuary in Athens (certainly an ironic choice given this is where the play is being performed), Medea constructs a rather complex plan. Having coated a cloak with poison, she has her children deliver it to the princess; not only will the princess die when she puts on the cloak (and her father along with her), the complicity of the children in the crime will give her an excuse to justify killing in order to literally save them from the wrath of the Corinthians.

This raises an interest questions: Could Medea have taken the children with her to her exile in Athens? On the one hand I want to answer that obviously, yes, she can; there is certainly room in her dragon-drawn chariot. But given her status as a foreigner, if Jason goes to Athens and demands the return of his children, would he not then have a claim that Medea could not contest? More importantly, is not Medea's ultimate vengeance on Jason that she will hurt him by taking away everything he holds dear, namely his children and his princess bride?

In the final line of the play the Chorus laments: "Many things beyond expectation do the gods fulfill. That which was expected has not been accomplished; for that which was unexpected has god found the way. Such was the end of this story." This last line has also found its way into the conclusion of other dramas by Euripides ("Alcestis," "Bacchae" and "Andromache"), but I have always found it to fit the ending of "Medea" best, so I suspect that is where it originally came from and ended up being appended to those other plays sometime during the last several thousand years. However, the statement is rather disingenuous because one of the rather standard approaches in a play by Euripides is that his characters often deserve their fate. In a very real sense, Euripides provides justification for Medea's monstrous crime and his implicit argument to the Athenian audience is that the punishment fits the crime. However, Athenians would never give up their air of superiority; at least not until foreigners such as the Macedonians and the Romans conquered the self-professed cradle of democracy.

Mama Dip's Kitchen
Published in Paperback by Univ of North Carolina Pr (1999)
Author: Mildred Council
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sex put to meter
Surely this book in no way represents the complete Verlaine voice of passion, sound, and transcendence. Verlaine unabashedly revels in the sounds and ecstatic sensation of sex: bodies, flesh, lust, carnality, beauty, pleasure. The language is shockingly explicit and overt; lovingly obscene and dangerously expressive, totally evocative and wonderful. a great terrible book of erotic poetry to know. Someone would eventually set it to verse. Further, Verlaine explores the equally wonderful curiosities of sexual pleasure within homosexual and heterosexual parameters. A completely liberal and perfect book for every thinker. Oh, the passion and lust.. the joy in sensation...Wow.

Chilton's Repair Manual Datsun/Nissan Z and Zx 1970-88: All U.S. and Canadian Models of 240Z, 260Z, 280Z, 280Zx, 280Zx Turbo, 300Zx, 300Zx Turbo (Chilton's Repair Manual (Model Specific))
Published in Paperback by Chilton/Haynes (1989)
Authors: Chilton Book Company and Chilton's Automotives Editorial
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Important translation of an obscure masterpiece.

This book is close to being a model for the presentation of translated material. (Only close: the absence of line numbers, and other such quibbles, make it fall short of the ideal.) Elliot's text is a single long poem (512 lines) published in 1917 by the French poet Paul Valéry (1871-1945), whom some call the last of the Symbolists. The poem took the author four years to write, and it immediately established his reputation as a major figure in French poetry.

Meticulously crafted and ineffably musical, but alas fearsomely difficult, the text was considered obscure even by the author - so what hope have we got? Much more now, given Elliot's rendering and his judicious though not copious notes.

What of the translation itself? I thought it was fresh and modern: perhaps often too modern and too easy, for such a work of scintillating surfaces and unfathomed depths. Given that the translator does not circumscribe his choices by the burden of rhyming (though the original is composed in rhymed Alexandrine couplets), one might have hoped for more soigné workings, more true to Valéry's own wonted register. But then, maybe I'm just old-fashioned!

I am preparing my own translation of this poem, and it is to be in rhymed pentameters throughout. This is indeed possible, and it will not (despite Elliot's opinion) take 16 years! Here, for comparison, are three versions of the first six lines:


Qui pleure là, sinon le vent simple, à cette heure

Seule, avec diamants extrêmes?... Mais qui pleure,

Si proche de moi-même au moment de pleurer?

Cette main, sur mes traits qu'elle rêve effleurer,

Distraitement docile à quelque fin profonde,

Attend de ma faiblesse une larme qui fonde,


Is that the simple wind? If not, who's crying

There at this hour alone with furthest diamonds?

Who's there, so near me at the point of crying?

This hand, dreaming its way across my features,

Distractedly obeying some deep order,

Looks for a tear to melt out of my weakness -


Who's weeping there? Or could it simply be

The wind that weeps, so very close to me

When I, alone with diamond stars, would weep?

Distracted by some purpose pure and deep

This hand is resting where it dreams it strokes,

All poised to catch the tear this hour provokes...

Elliot says in his introduction that he has met only one other person who has read La Jeune Parque. There should certainly be many more now, thanks to his efforts, on which I heartily congratulate him.

33 Sonnets of the Resistance (Visible Poets)
Published in Paperback by ARC Publications (01 November, 2002)
Authors: Jean Cassou, Timothy Ades, Louis Aragon, and Alistair Elliot
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Clinical Guidelines in Old Age Psychiatry
Published in Paperback by Martin Dunitz Ltd (19 October, 2001)
Authors: Alistair Burns, Tom Dening, Brian, Md. Lawlor, J. David Abrams, Allieu, David Chiu, Famin Chou, Cochlin, Cody, and Eastell
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Published in Unknown Binding by Ceolfrith Press ()
Author: Alistair Elliot
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Facing Things
Published in Paperback by Carcanet Press Ltd (15 May, 1997)
Author: Alistair Elliot
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Russian in 10 Minutes a Day
Published in Paperback by Bilingual Books (2002)
Author: Kristine K. Kershul
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Italian Landscape Poems
Published in Paperback by Bloodaxe Books Ltd (01 January, 1993)
Author: Alistair Elliot
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Kisses : poems
Published in Unknown Binding by Ceolfrith ()
Author: Alistair Elliot
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